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David Kramer’s high-entropy blog

Server-Site Web: Java Vs PHP

I had a conversation the other day with a fellow Software Engineer about a web-based project I want to start.  There are several advantages of these two technologies, and clearly either one would be sufficient to do the job.  As a Software Engineer who is constantly striving to improve and up my skillset, I also have to think about what technologies are going to further my career.  Developers, I would love to get a discussion going on this topic, so please leave comments. Oh, and I am purposely sticking to these technologies because I believe strongly in cross-platform tools, and these are the two top contenders in that arena.  And we’re talking server-side options.   So no whining from the .NET/Flex crowd.

Read on…

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Happy WordPress Theme Hacking

My WordPress theme is based on Andreas04.  When I implemented it on my website, though, I found all sorts of problems with it once you start shoving real content in it.  I had to tweak it quite a bit.  I’m still not exactly in love with the way the footer came out.  It was worth it, though, because I found it very hard to find a theme that:

  • Used fairly high-tech colors and layout:  Many themes use more earthy colors, or were tied too close to a topic.  My blog is way too diverse to do that.
  • Had the right color contrast: Many themes were very low contrast, with background and text colors that were very close to each other, and different sections nearly the same color.
  • Used the full page width using relative column widths: Almost every theme uses absolute column widths that use a tiny portion of the screen width, with completely dead space on both sides. Back when print was king, empty space was a status symbol, especially in advertisements.  I abhor empty space, especially on the sides of the page, especially when it’s almost impossible to find a monitor that isn’t widescreen.

Anyway, I put a lot of efforts into adding lots of tags on my pages.  While they are helpful in searching, I realized they never actually get displayed.  So I modified the index.php and single.php to display the tags in the footer area.  What do you think? Please comment.

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Google’s Next Semantic Web Move

We all love Google.  And I’m not just saying that because I would love to work there.  Sure, there are other search websites, but for general use, Google works best for me.  And I’m not saying that because it usually brings me to the right Wikipedia page as the first result, or the cool logos.  They get the whole metadata thing.  They get the whole “The Web As A Database” thing, as does Yahoo.

Just the other day, Google announced on their Webmaster Central blog a new technology that will allow web devleopers to specify content for their website’s Rich Snippets (I found this on Dries Buytaert’s blog post, posted on a LinkedIn group).  Rich Snippets are tiny sections of a website that appear next to the link on Google’s search results page.  Depending on the kind of website, it might show reviews of the company/product, contact information for that person, etc.  That information is automagically derived from that page and related pages. Read on…

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Reducing Your Web Page Load Time With CSS Sprites

I knew about this technique in a general way but found an article through Digg that really explained it well.  This article not only does a great overview, it also links to several other great articles on the subject, like this one.

CSS Sprites is a technique borrowed from video games.  If you’ve got several small images you want to appear in the same spot and change based on some JavaScript event (hover, onclick, or really any other event), instead of using several separate .GIF files, put all the images into one file in a grid pattern, and using CSS’s background-position attribute to move the visible portion of the image around from one virtual image to the other.

The result is a dramatic decrease in the number of HTTP requests required to display the page.  And the combined image takes up less space than the sum of the individual images, due to header and color map information.

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70 New, Useful AJAX And JavaScript Techniques

Smashing Magazine posted this article on some wonderful ways to use AJAX on  your website.  I’m not saying there’s a whole slew of new, innovative techniques there, but it’s really nice to have such a large collection of them in one place, with working examples.

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Microsoft Incompatible With Microsoft

From (duh) Slashdot is this article:Microsoft.com Makes IE8 Incompatibility List!

“Microsoft is tracking incompatible Web sites for its upcoming Internet Explorer 8 browser and has posted a list that now contains about 2,400 names – including Microsoft.com. Apparently, even though Microsoft’s IE8 team is doing the ‘right’ thing by finally making IE more standards-compliant, they are risking ‘breaking the Web’ because the vast majority of Web sites are still written to work correctly with previous, non-standards-compliant versions of IE.”

Microsoft, here is the bed you made. Now spend some quality time in it.

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